enter image description hereenter image description hereenter image description hereI have an outdoor patio in New Mexico bordered in bricks set in Mortar. These bricks were set 5 years ago.They get wet from the sprinklers. They are seperating from the concrete foundation. You can tap the bricks and the mortar falls off in big chunks leaving the brick clean of any mortar. I have a brick border that is 20 years old getting wet from the same sprinkler water and it is solid as can be. My contractor wants to charge me to re-do what i think was a bad martor mix. Does anyone have ideas as to what the problem may be beyond bad mix?

  • Are they the same type of brick? All clay is not necessarily created equal. One set of bricks may be more porous than the other, leading to the mortar debonding because it is kept permanently damp from inside the brick. Just guessing, though. Also, in structural work mortar is not really a "bond" - building a wall, the mortar just fills up the uneven gaps between the bricks or stones, and gravity (i.e. the weight of the bricks) is what holds the wall together, not the mortar. Maybe one set of bricks is laid on a more solid foundation that the others? – alephzero Sep 28 '18 at 18:34
  • 5 years ago is a long time. Did it just happen now? Pictures? – Graham Chiu Sep 28 '18 at 20:30
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    Actually, 5 years is not a long time for mortar structure. Brick most certainly needs the structural 'glue' of mortar to hold it together, unlike CMU units. Pat D. You should look up your state's codes and state warranty for work done by contractors! Washington State has 12 year warranty. Your contractor most certainly could be held accountable. Please call Buildings and Code or look it up on the internet and let us know. Sounds like a bad job to me...Did your contractor have his own contract or AIA contract? See what he said under warranty in his contract. – stormy Sep 28 '18 at 20:39
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    Isn't more likely that the base has subsided and instead of the mortar "failing" the bricks are settling? – kevinsky Sep 28 '18 at 21:40
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    I dont see any "retainer" to hold the brick into the joint. No edging that I can see which makes me wonder if @kevinsky is onto sonething. Also, perhaps (not sure) evaporation? How is the sun exposure on this soldier ruun conpared to thw other areas where they havent seperated? – Phlume Sep 29 '18 at 1:14

Yes you are right the mix was bad. That and the application was bad. Adhering cement to cement is much like welding iron to iron. If done correctly the joint is actually stronger than the material being joined. What most likely happened here was a combination of cheap mortar, poor mixing and improper application techniques.

You don't need a contractor to fix this if you have some spare time. If you don't have spare time I wouldn't even bother using the same contractor because she/he is obviously just going to do a poor job at fixing her/his mistake because she/he is not operating from first principles.

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