The most common root cause for loose and mortar cracks its the exposure to moisture, if there are sprinklers systems spraying water to the masonry on a daily basis and the masonry its not protected with a water sealer repellent it will cause part of the mortar to come off easily and will also cause white stains to the bricks. Brick structures like fences or homes are supported by brick tides and wiring and when it gets exposed to moisture it expands and causes the mortar to be weak. Back in the days sprinkler system were in 360 degrees now in days you can select the angle of your sprinklers. Also missing mortar can be cause by not adding the correct amount of ingredients on the mortar preparations, in new installations there should be no need for mortar maintenance at least for 25 years,(bricks last a century ), after that a little maintenance will be required, adding a water sealer protection every 5 years will help maintaining the brick and mortar in a good shape. foundation movements will cause mortar cracks as well, often seen in homes, there are multiple factors that cause a foundation movement, poor foundation, not enough foundation rebars, tree roots and the worse enemy-water. Floods, heavy rains or even sprinklers can cause movements on the foundations that will lead mortar cracks. Brick face coming off; on the brick making process, brick are made at extremely high temperatures and that helps bricks to absorb moisture for over 50 years, but when exposed to extreme moisture and sunlight back and forth, without a water sealer protection, it will star deteriorating over time.
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