Most homes with central air conditioners have split systems. These are air conditioners with a set of indoor and outdoor units. The indoor unit contains the evaporator coil and the air handler that sends cooled air into the ventilation system. The outdoor unit, also known as the condenser, is a cabinet that holds the compressor, evaporator coil, and exhaust fan.
Any resident of Southern California knows the sight of these outdoor condenser units. They’re usually located along the side of a house or in the backyard, sometimes disguised behind a fence because people generally don’t find them the most beautiful part of the outside decor. Homeowners sometimes try to hide condensers behind shrubs or other plants, making them disappear into the landscaping. Unfortunately, this can lead to serious AC problems! The condenser of a central air conditioner must have a clear area around it to give it room to “breathe,” as we’ll explain below.