Bricks should be soaked in water for at least one hour before use for brickwork in cement and lime mortars. The bricks should be sufficiently soaked before use but not excessively so. The absence of bubbling when the soaked brick is immersed in water is the test for through soaking.
Bricks made from saline soil are not suitable for building works. Such bricks show heavy efflorescence and scum (white powdery deposit) on the surface of the bricks. These types of bricks crumble on weathering and lose strength in course of time. The surface of the walls gets disfigured and the plaster peels off quickly. When used in reinforced structures such bricks corrode the reinforcement. The new work should be kept wet during construction and for 10 days after completion.
For brickwork in mud, the bricks should only be dipped into a tub of water and not soaked before use.
Masonry work such as at top of walls should be kept covered with 12 mm of water for about 10 days when the work is not in progress. For this purpose the top of masonry is provided with small mud mortar parapets all round the edges and crosswise so as to form small compartments.
No mortar joints should exceed 6 mm for 1st class brickwork in cement and 10 mm for 2nd class brickwork in lime, 12 mm for 3rd class brickwork in mud mortar, and no joint should be less than 5 mm in thickness.
Mortar of the proper consistency only should be delivered on the work; any subsequent thinning with water should be prohibited. Mortar that is too thick or too thin should be sent back to the mixing floor.
The surface of each course should be thoroughly cleaned of all dirt before another course is laid on top. If the mortar in any course has begun to set, the joints should be raked out to a depth of 12 mm before another course is laid. When the top course has been exposed to the weather for any length of time it should be removed and the surface of the second course thoroughly cleaned before any more courses are added. The work should be added on uniformly throughout so that there is equal distribution of pressure on the foundation, to avoid cracking; no portion of the work shall be left more than 90 cm lower than another.
If a work is to be pointed or plasters, the surface should be prepared as required. If pointing or plasters is not provided as a separate item, the joints should be struck and finished at the time of laying. Straight lines can be marked with a string which is pressed into the mortar.
When work is to be built on a soil that contains harmful salts, only selected well burnt bricks (preferably slightly over-burnt) should be used for a height of at least 60 cm above ground level, as bricks which are not thoroughly burnt rapidly corrode away in such a situation.