Keurig Says Prime Error – How To Prime A Keurig?

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If you own a Keurig coffee maker, there’s a good chance that, at some point, you’ll have encountered a “prime” error on your otherwise trusty machine. But what does it mean, and – more importantly – how can you fix the problem so you can brew coffee at the touch of a button?

In this article, we’ll explore why your Keurig may be displaying this error message and provide some straightforward steps to help you get to the bottom of the issue.

Why Does Your Keurig Say ‘Prime’ Error?

There are several reasons why the “prime” error message might appear on your Keurig coffee maker’s display. This is one of the most common Keurig coffee maker problems. Usually, though, it means that the machine is not dispensing water correctly.

This can happen for several reasons, including clogged or obstructed water lines and the dirty water reservoir. If you often brew coffee with tap water, over time, the small tubes that carry the water in your machine can become clogged with debris, mineral deposits, or other contaminants. Eventually, this can lead to the dreaded “prime” error message being displayed, indicating that the machine cannot properly prime itself for brewing.

Another reason for the message can be a dirty or clogged needle. The needle on your Keurig pierces the K-cup when the machine is brewing. However, if it becomes clogged, it can prevent it from doing it properly.

A more serious issue that causes the Keurig prime message to appear is a damaged or faulty pump: The water pump ensures water pushes through the machine and into the K-cup. However, wear and tear over time can create issues.

Another area of the machine that can be affected is its water reservoir: For example, if the reservoir is not properly sealed or has a leak.

Regardless of the specific cause of the Keurig prime error message, it’s important to address it promptly to ensure that your Keurig can once again function as intended. Thankfully, it’s a simple enough issue to fix in just a few minutes.

How To Prime A Keurig

If your Keurig displays the “prime” error message, you’ll need to prime the Keurig machine to fix the issue. Here’s how to do it:

Step 1

Remove the water reservoir. Then, thoroughly clean it, removing any water filter you may have before doing so.

The recommended way to clean the reservoir is with mild dish soap that’s non-abrasive. Ensure you clean the reservoir inside and out with a damp cloth or paper towel, and don’t forget about the filter screen at its base. You can also use a water sprayer if you have one.

Once the machine is fully clean, add about two inches of water to the reservoir, gently swirl it around and empty it to remove any soapy water residue. Don’t put either the water tank or lid in the dishwasher or dry it with a cloth. Instead, rinse both with hot water and leave them to air dry. Cleaning the water reservoir also helps remove the Keurig plastic taste.

Step 2

If you have a water filter, place it back in the reservoir and reattach it to the brewer, ensuring it is aligned correctly.

Step 3

Pour clean water into the reservoir to its capacity. Next, turn the machine on and run three water-only brew cycles at the six or eight-ounce size. Then, place a 10oz mug onto the tray, lift and lower the holder, and press brew. Press brew again when the “ready to brew” indicator is displayed.

Here is the video tutorial from Keurig.

If running a water-only cycle can’t solve the problem, try to run a descaling cycle. At this point, there is a good chance the prime error indicator will no longer be displayed. However, if it is, there are other steps you can take to resolve the issue. Let’s take a closer look.

What To Do If The Keurig Prime Error Won’t Go Away

Clean The Needle

The process of cleaning the needle is the same regardless of the coffee machine you own.

Step 1

Turn your machine off and unplug it. Next, remove the pod holder, lift the handle, hold the top of the pod holder with one hand, and push up from the bottom with the other hand to release it.

Step 2

Remove the funnel from the pod holder by pulling at the sides.

Step 3

On the underside of the K-cup holder, there is a small tube. Take a paper clip and straighten one side. Place it in the tube and rotate it to remove any clogging that may have built up inside it.

Step 4

Clean the pod holder and funnel thoroughly under running water with soft dish soap to release the debris. Keep in mind that you will also be cleaning the exit needle, which is sharp, so be careful not to hurt your fingers while carrying out this part of the process. Set it aside.

Step 5

Lift the handle and locate the entrance needle under the brewer’s head. You will see it has two holes you need to clean. Gently insert the paper clip through the two side holes and move it around to remove debris. Then remove the paper clip.

Step 6

Click the funnel back into the pod holder, then align the tabs of the pod holder with the opening of the brewer, ensuring the two front tabs are on the bottom and the single tabs at the top. Push on the top rim while holding the brewer handle with your other hand.

Step 7

Position the mug on the drip tray, lift and lower the handle, then run a water-only brew cycle at the largest cup size setting. You will not need a K-cup pod for this.

The needles will now be clean, and – hopefully – the prime error message will no longer display. But, if it still is, there is one more thing you can try.

Here is the video tutorial for cleaning the Needles of Keurig.

Clear The Filter Screen And Water Reservoir Port

If cleaning the needle assembly doesn’t fix the “prime” error message, the next step is to clean the filter screen and water reservoir port. Here’s how:

Step 1

Turn off your Keurig and unplug it from the wall. Then, remove the water reservoir and set it aside. This will allow you to access the filter screen and water reservoir port.

Step 2

Locate the water reservoir port on the bottom of the Keurig. This is the small hole through which water enters the machine. Use a paperclip to clean any debris obstructing the port carefully. Be sure to clean the port thoroughly, as any remaining debris can prevent the machine from properly priming itself for brewing.

Step 3

With the water reservoir port clean, locate the filter screen on the bottom of the water reservoir. This is the small, circular screen that helps to filter out impurities in the water. Carefully remove it and rinse it thoroughly under running water. Be sure to rinse the screen until all debris is removed.

Step 4

Once the filter screen is clean, reattach it to the water reservoir and refill it with fresh water. Securely attach the reservoir, as a loose or improperly sealed reservoir can cause the “prime” error message to display. Then plug the machine back in.

Step 5

Turn on the Keurig and brew a cup of coffee using a K-cup. If the “prime” message does not reappear, the issue has been resolved, and your Keurig is ready to use. However, if the error message is still there, it could indicate a more serious issue with your Keurig that will require the assistance of a professional.

Final Thoughts

All coffee makers require maintenance to keep them in the best condition, and Keurig is no exception. The “prime” error message can be one of the most frustrating aspects of a Keurig, as it’s not always obvious what the issue is.

Thankfully, there are several procedures you can work through to solve the issue, and none of them should take longer than 10 minutes to carry out.

The chances are the issue will be solvable with those steps, but, on occasion, it may indicate a more serious issue. If the issue persists, it’s best to seek the assistance of Keurig’s customer support.

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Chris Clark

Chris Clark is the co-founder and chief content editor of With a passion for all things java, Chris has been a coffee blogger for the past 3 years and shares his expertise in coffee brewing with the readers. He's a hands-on expert, loves testing coffee equipment, and has written most of the in-depth reviews featured on the site. When he's not whipping up delicious drinks or experimenting with the latest coffee gadgets, Chris is exploring the local cafe.