How To Prime A Keurig (Easy 4 Step Beginners Guide)

In just a few minutes, you can brew coffee at your convenience with Keurig coffee machines --until one day, you see the PRIME word on the screen of your Keurig machine. So, what do you do?

The Keurig Prime error may sound alarming, but this is quite easy to fix.

Today, I'll show you how to prime a Keurig machine, the reasons for getting this error message, and other important things you need to know about the Keurig Prime message.

The Keurig Prime error message will appear when for a few reasons, but in general, it means that your device needs some attention before it can properly function.

In some Keurig machines, you’ll see the Prime word in the display, while other models will flash the 'Add Water' and 'Heating' lights simultaneously.

If you're experiencing any prime error message, your coffee machine will fail to dispense water from its reservoir correctly. For a coffee lover, this problem is difficult to ignore as the machine will not brew coffee at all.

Below are several reasons why your Keurig coffee maker needs priming.

Misaligned Water Reservoir

Did you just clean your Keurig machine? Or maybe you moved it to a new location? You may have hit Keurig's water reservoir out of place, causing some alignment issues with your coffee machine.

A misaligned water reservoir is one of the most common reasons your Keurig displays a prime message.

Dirty Water Reservoir

It is imperative to clean your Keurig water reservoir at least once a week. This can prevent the Prime error message from appearing.

On top of that, it can keep bacteria and mold from building up inside your coffee machine. If you haven't been keen on cleaning the water reservoir, this may be causing the issue.

Limescale Deposits

Limescale is one of the leading causes of many household appliances malfunctioning, and your Keurig coffee maker is no exception.[1]

If you don’t properly clean and maintain your Keurig machine, limescale or calcium deposits and limestone sediments will build up, obstructing water from getting through to the coffee pod.

If lime scaling is causing the Prime error, your coffee machine may show signs of problems, such as brewing watery and weak coffee, even before the machine displays the Prime message.

Thankfully, you can prevent this from happening by descaling your machine. Keurig sells a descaling solution that allows you to easily flush the unwanted calcium build-up from your coffee maker.[2]

This can work in all models of Keurig, including the Keurig 2.0, Keurig B60, and Keurig B70.

It is important to descale your machine every three to six months. For some Keurig models, there’s a dedicated light that comes on or an error message to alert you if your machine needs descaling.

If you live in an area known for hard water, descale your Keurig more often than every three to six months.

You can use distilled water to brew your coffee instead of tap water to reduce the need for descaling.

Keurig Shows Prime Error

Keurig Coffee Maker Says Prime - How To Fix It! 

If you need to prime your Keurig machine, there are different methods, depending on what's causing the issue. Don't worry; these processes are simple and don't need any technical skills to complete.

It's best to go through all the methods, as there is no formula to diagnose what exactly is causing the issue.

1. Reattach The Water Reservoir

Since a misaligned water reservoir is the most common reason for a Prime error message, you first need to unplug it and reattach it back to the machine.

Often, this method does the trick, especially if you just refilled the water reservoir or moved the machine to a different location.

  • Power off the machine to ensure that there will be no current flowing through it.
  • Remove the water reservoir from the machine by grabbing both ends and pulling them up firmly. This should come off easily.
  • Lastly, reattach the water reservoir. Ensure that it's secure at the base when you put the reservoir back and that no air bubbles are appearing in the water. Once you've reattached the water reservoir, try to brew coffee and see if you get the same error message.

It's good practice to do this method whenever you see a Prime error in your machine. In many cases, this will fix the issue right away.

2. Clean The Water Reservoir

Your Keurig's water tank can get dirty over time. If you don't clean the reservoir regularly, you'll most likely encounter the Prime error message on your device.

Follow these instructions to clean the water tank:

  • First, remove the reservoir from your device. Carefully do this, or you might break the tank.
  • If your Keurig coffee maker has a water filter, remove the filter screen and set it aside.
  • Using a damp cloth soaked in soapy water, wipe the insides of the reservoir. It’s best to use mild dish soap with warm water to prevent any damage to the device. I recommend using a non-abrasive cloth to wipe the tank to avoid scratching it.
  • Then, dry the reservoir. If you're not in a rush, let the tank air dry as using towels, such as a paper towel, may contain lint that can make it dirty again.
  • Once cleaned, place the tank back into the machine. Ensure that it's properly aligned at the base of the machine. You’ll usually hear a click if the tank is inserted properly.
  • Fill the tank with about two inches of water and run a couple of water-only brew cycles to eliminate any remaining debris you may have missed when cleaning the tank. This will also remove any remnants of your cleaning supplies, ensuring your coffee won’t taste like soap.
Cleaning Keurig Water Container

If using soft dish soap for cleaning the tank didn't resolve the issue, you can try to use a natural descaling agent, like white vinegar, to remove debris in your Keurig.

However, you need to check your device's warranty before doing this, as it may void the warranty.

Important reminder: Do not use any other vinegar apart from white vinegar. Other kinds of vinegar, like balsamic or apple cider, may increase the debris build-up in your machine.

Here’s how you can prime your Keurig device with white vinegar:

  • Fill half the water tank with white vinegar, then add clean water until the fill line is.
  • Put a cup on the drip tray underneath the brew head but leave the K-Cup holder empty. Then, run a full descaling cycle.
  • After that, run two brewing cycles. If these cycles don’t empty the reservoir, continue doing it until the solution is empty.
  • Fill the tank again with fresh water and run a water-only brew cycle or more until you have thoroughly rinsed the machine. The water-only cycles will help remove the taste of vinegar from your machine.
Barista HQ Tip: If you live in an area with hard water, some K-Cup and Keurig coffee maker models allow you to add a water filter cartridge inside the tank.
This will help lessen the limescale deposits in your machine. However, you may need to change these cartridges regularly to keep your machine in its best shape.

3. Clean The Filter Screen

If cleaning the tank or running a descaling cycle doesn't work, the next step is to clean the filter screen. The filter screen can be found at the bottom of the water reservoir, where the tank connects to the base of the machine.

Even though your machine uses hot water to brew a cup of coffee, the water will eventually cool down, filling the filter screen.

As a result, bacteria and mold can grow on the screen over time, which may lead to the need to prime your Keurig.

Regularly cleaning this component of your coffee maker ensures that you brew a high-quality, fresh cup of coffee every time... not the weak, watery kind.

If your filter screen is dirty, you'll notice that your K-Cup will take longer to fill your cup. You'll also notice a drop in the quality of the coffee it brews.

If neglected, you'll eventually see a Prime error in your machine.

So, when you clean your reservoir, make sure that you tidy up the filter too. Wiping it with a damp cloth usually works, but here are other ways to clean the screen:

  • Put the screen under running water to remove any dirt build-up in the filter.
  • You can also fill the reservoir with plain water and gently shake it back and forth.
  • A cleaning brush also works with cleaning the filter screen.

After cleaning the screen, make sure you rinse the tank again to avoid repeating the whole process of cleaning the reservoir.

Clean The Filter Screen of A Keurig

4. Clean The Needles

The most neglected part of your Keurig coffee maker is its needles.

Dirty needles can cause a prime error in your machine, especially if there are wet coffee grounds stuck on both the entrance needle and exit needle.

Thankfully, it’s very easy to clean these needles. You only need a paper clip and some cold water. Then, follow this process:

  • Unplug the machine from the socket to ensure that there are no electrical currents that can shock you when you open the machine.
  • Carefully lift the handle of Keurig and remove the pod holder. This should be easy to remove.
  • Grab your paper clip and straighten one of its ends.
  • Find the tube on the underside of the pod holder. Then, using the clip, clean the tube. Wiggle the clip to ensure that all the coffee particles are removed.
  • Under running water, clean the pod holder and the exit needle.
  • Next, locate the entrance needle underneath the brewer’s head. You’ll see that there are two needles that you need to clean. Use the paper clip again for cleaning.
  • Reassemble the pod holder and reattach it to the machine.
  • Plug in the machine, press brew, and run a water-only cycle. Make sure that you place a cup on the drip tray. This will remove any debris left in the needles you may have missed.

With proper maintenance, you can ensure that the Keurig coffee maker will continue to brew high-quality coffee all the time.

Cleaning Needles of A Keurig

What To Do If Prime Error Won't Go Away

If none of the above fixes work, the last thing you need to do is contact Keurig customer support.[3] The company has good customer care and can provide you with a more personalized fix, depending on the Keurig model you own. 

Just ensure you enumerate all the steps you've taken so they know what other troubleshooting steps you need to do to prime your Keurig device.

However, if customer support can't help prime your Keurig, the last thing you can do is have your machine repaired or replaced if it's still under warranty.

For this step, make sure you still have the receipt with you. You can also consult with customer support if the warranty covers this issue.

Common Questions About Priming A Keurig

How long does it take to prime a Keurig?

The amount of time it takes to prime your Keurig can range from a few minutes to a few hours, depending on what method you use.

Can you prime a Keurig with vinegar?

Yes, you can prime a Keurig with vinegar. However, this may void your warranty, so be sure to only use this method if your device is not under warranty anymore.

How do I purge the air out of my Keurig?

To purge the air out of your Keurig, simply fill the reservoir about a quarter full, and the air will leave the machine automatically.

Why does my Keurig not pump water out of the reservoir?

If your Keurig does not dispense water correctly out of the reservoir, there may be debris build-up in its water pump. To help your machine draw water again, simply empty the reservoir and fill it about a third of the way.

How long do Keurig coffee makers normally last?

Keurig coffee makers usually last for about three to five years.


With a primed Keurig coffee maker, you can enjoy great-tasting coffee anytime. To prevent your machine from getting a Prime error again, regularly clean and descale it.

Buying a coffee pot can also help with maintaining your device, as it can lessen the need to brew new coffee every time.

If you'd like to try out new coffee flavors, check out Atlas Coffee and a coffee pods subscription from around the world.[4]



Kim Fernandez


Kim Fernandez
Kim offers a unique perspective on coffee culture and trends. Kim's writing is personal and experiential, providing readers with firsthand advice on the latest in coffee. Beyond her writing, Kim is an avid explorer of new coffee trends and spots, always seeking to share the most genuine advice and latest trends. True to her love for coffee, you'll often find her in a café, immersed in a book with a freshly brewed cup of joe.

My favorite drink? I'd go with... A freshly brewed cup of joe

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