stone breaking up what do I do?

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MP43

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All brick and stone expands and contracts as a result of temperature fluctuations over the course of a day and season to season. To account for this, the mortar must be softer than the brick or stone. If expanding stone/brick can't compress the mortar, stress causes cracks to develop and spalling to occur. This is why its common to see spalling on old brick buildings that have been "pointed up" with modern mortar. Old brick wasn't fired as hard as newer brick, and the mortar used back then was correspondingly softer.
I'm no mason, but from the pictures it looks like a relatively hard cement may have been used to construct this wall, which is not allowing the stones to expand sufficiently. But again, someone more qualified than me would need to conduct an inspection on site to confirm that. If that is your problem, then unfortunately there's no easy fix. But moisture compounds the issue, so as others have suggested, taking steps to seal things up and prevent water absorption could be of benefit. Good luck!
 

Shadowrider

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It may not be just freeze/thaw damage but sub-florescence where the stone salts break the stone down itself. If that's the case don't seal it. That may be the reason it wasn't sealed in the first place.
This is exactly what it looks like to me. Notice the white spots at the very left edge of the one pic and the white residue on the ground in one pic.

Is this an outdoor fire pit? You may need to build a roof over it to keep the rain off of it.
 

4play

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It looks like sedimentary rock, which can be prone to spalling and delamination. A lot of sedimentary rock have salt deposits in the layers, and water will dissolve the salt, this can create pockets, and cracks which allow more water to collect and deteriorate the rock. Mortar being too hard is a real thing too.
 

mgssamn

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yes- outdoor firepit and about 70 ft retaining wall. It seems that one of the best options is too rip it out and start over which I am hesitant to do. A roof isn't happening soon either.
I have seen that white residue as well thinking it is a chemical or salt residue, but didn't figure it would be part of the destruction as I didn't know.
just not sure what to do right now for next step.
anyone know any trustworthy masons in broken arrow/tulsa? (I am far eastern BA)
 

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