Ask the expert

Why does my pool water sting my eyes and smell strongly of chlorine? Have I over-chlorinated?

A: This is one of those counter-intuitive situations, which can seem confusing. In short, no, you have not over-chlorinated your pool.

Your eyes are stinging because the pH balance is out. The ideal level is between 7.2 and 7.6 for concrete pools, and between 7.0 and 7.2 for fibreglass. Staying within those ranges should not cause any discomfort for swimmers but moving out of that scale almost certainly will. Incorrect pH levels can also interfere with the action of your sanitiser.

First up you need to test the pH levels (either do it yourself or take a sample to your pool shop) and then take the steps required to bring pH back into an acceptable range.

To increase pH levels, you’ll need to add sodium carbonate or soda ash and to decrease, you’ll need to add pool acid. If you are confident handling pool chemicals and have balanced your water chemistry in the past, then you’ll know you need to mix chemicals in a bucket of water prior to adding to the pool. If this is all out of your league, or you are not sure of quantities and volumes, check with your local pool store or consult a technician.

The second reason for stinging eyes is the presence of chloramines. The strong chlorine smell – and this is the counter-intuitive part – comes from the chloramines and indicates a lack of chlorine in the water. You can easily eliminate this issue by adding more chlorine. Again, do this safely by adding granules or liquid to a bucket of water before adding into the pool.

For expert advice, email your pool and outdoor living questions to .

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