A Keurig coffee maker is a perfect holiday gift idea. It is one of those appliances that bring a smile on everyone’s faces. After all, a cup of strong coffee is all we need in the morning to get started. Once you get a coffee maker home, it becomes the center of attention for the entire household. Even if you are living alone, you will not be able to save yourself from staring at this beautiful appliance while sipping your coffee and hoping that it will continue working like this forever.

However, after a few days, the machine could stop working. Problems like descaling, inappropriate placement of detachable parts, calcium deposits, and brewing or dripping problems start to appear. What was once your beautiful morning companion has now turned into a nightmare and you often just go out and buy a latte instead of making an espresso at home? How sad!

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We may have dramatized the experience a bit (ok, we stretched the fabric a little. We admit it) but if you are a true coffee lover, nothing could be worse than waking up in the morning and seeing that your coffee maker has a problem. Though Keurig machines are known for being durable, they may sometimes have a few small issues that could easily ruin your day if you are not patient enough.

There is a peculiar problem with Keurig coffee makers when the water tank doesn’t dispense water properly. When this happens, your machine could display ‘PRIME’ error. Let’s understand three different ways to prime a Keurig machine.

#1 Cleansing And Descaling

Keurig Descaling

Most problems that occur in your Keurig can be attributed to scaling or calcium buildup. Thankfully, removing calcium buildup is easy and if you do it every 3 to 6 months, your machine will keep working like new for longer. For ensuring that your prime error goes away, follow the steps mentioned below.

  • Unplug the machine and detach the water reservoir. Drain the reservoir.
  • Use a damp cloth and clean water, start scrubbing off the interiors of the water reservoir. Most of the calcium buildup can be removed in this way. You can use a mild dishwashing detergent as well.
  • If the tank is clean, reattach it to the machine. Now fill the water reservoir once again and run the machine. This time, don’t use a K-cup. Your machine should wash away the rest of the calcium deposit and it should start working again.
  • There are chances that the calcium deposits are too old or stubborn to be removed with plain water and dish soap. If such is the case, you should use distilled vinegar. Fill the tank with water and add some distilled vinegar into it. Let the mixture sit for at least 30 minutes and then run the machine without a K-cup. Vinegar will clean up all deposits quickly and give you a sparkly clean water reservoir.
  • Make sure that you run the machine with plain water in the reservoir multiple times after this, to remove any traces of vinegar. Otherwise, it may interfere with the taste of your coffee.

#2 Needle And Holder Cleaning

Needle And Holder Cleaning

Sometimes, the machine’s water tank and its calcium deposits have nothing to do with the prime message. In this case, you will have to clean the holder and needle of the machine. Here is how.

  • Switch off and unplug your machine.
  • Now move the handle of the machine up and gently push the holder from underneath it. Use your other hand to grab it and pull it gently. It should easily come out its housing.
  • Notice that the holder has a funnel attached to it. Hold the funnel and the holder tightly and carefully remove the funnel. You may need to use some force to do so.
  • Check if the holder has any debris in it. If it does, use a straightened paperclip to remove the dirt. After this, clean the holder and funnel under running water, reattach them and place them back in the housing.
  • Now, look for an entrance needle under the brewer’s head. Lift the handle to find this small and sharp needle entrance. Use a paperclip to clear away any debris build up in this area.
  • Now fill the water reservoir and run a brew cycle without the K-cup.

#3 Filter Screen Cleaning

Filter Screen Cleaning

If descaling and holder/needle cleaning hasn’t worked for you, the problem could lie elsewhere. Let’s look at another way to eradicate the prime issue on your machine.

  • Switch off and unplug your machine.
  • Remove your water reservoir and drain it.
  • Take a damp cloth and start cleaning the base of the reservoir (don’t clean the reservoir bottom. Focus on the area of the base which holds the reservoir. You will find a small base port here (it is a small opening in the base. This opening should be cleared completely. A cloth will do the trick but if there is too much debris, use a paperclip carefully.
  • Now take your reservoir and place it under running water. Most water reservoirs have a mesh filter at the top. When you keep the reservoir under running water, the mesh filter gets cleaned and debris lands in the tank.
  • After all, debris has been collected, simply drain the reservoir, fill it with fresh water and place it back on the machine.
  • Run multiple glasses of water only brew cycles on the machine to give it a thorough rinse from the inside.

Bonus Tip: Sometimes, a prime error can occur when you haven’t attached the water reservoir to the machine properly. As the problem is localized to this region of the machine, it could be worthwhile to unplug the machine, detach, and reattach the reservoir securely to the machine. You should try to run the machine again and see if the error flashes again. If it doesn’t, you have saved some time and headache. If the error reappears, try the above-mentioned methods to ensure that your coffee maker works error free.

This will help you in cleaning your machine thoroughly and removing all errors at home. If you have performed all the three steps mentioned above but your machine still displays the prime error, it is time to call the manufacturer. A Keurig machine comes with 1 to 2-year limited warranty. Make sure you check the warranties before calling.

Here are three solutions to prime Keurig. They have been proven through success of a lot of users. So do you want to give it a try?


Grant is the man behind Just Coffee Maker, a site dedicated to the art of brewing coffee manually! Grants's writing is unpretentious and really captures the beauty of the ritual in making great coffee.

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