How Do You Prime A Keurig (Step-By-Step)

Sometimes, you’ll notice your Keurig brewer showcasing a ‘prime’ alert. This usually occurs when water isn’t flowing efficiently through the machine. You can troubleshoot various components to clear the ‘prime’ error alert and resume normal water flow through the brewer. These include the base port, the water tank, the filter screen, the water tank port, and the puncture needles.

What does it mean when Keurig says prime?

The ‘Prime’ message in a Keurig brewer means that something hinders the water flow from the water reservoir through the coffee machine. The most probable reason is that the tank isn’t well-secured to the base. Other reasons for such a blockade include a dirty water tank, a dirty base port, and clogged needles.

It’s also probable that there’s a buildup of calcium deposits around the base of the water tank. The mineral buildup clogs the area around the exit nozzle port or the filter screen, prompting your Keurig to display a ‘Prime’ error alert.

How to prime Your Keurig step by step

You can prime your Keurig coffee machine in the following ways:

  • Properly securing the tank is correctly connected to the base.
  • Cleaning the water tank.
  • Cleaning the base port.
  • Cleaning the filter screen and the water tank port.
  • Unclogging the needles.

Ensure the water tank is full and well connected

Keurig brewers have a magnet that monitors the water level inside the tank. The magnet rises to the top when the tank is full and drops as the water level decreases. Thus, you should monitor the level of the magnet and refill the water tank if it drops too low.

Additionally, you need to ensure that the tank is firmly secured to the brewer. Once the tank is securely attached, water will flow freely from the reservoir into the brewer.

Detach and wash the water tank

Remove the water tank and take out the water filter. It’s probable that some gunk or limescale buildup is preventing proper water flow from the tank to the brewer. If this is the case, you’ll want to clean the water tank in the sink properly. Follow the steps detailed below:

  • Empty the water tank.
  • Wash the outside and inside of the tank using a wet and soapy, non-abrasive cloth
  • Clean the filter screen section at the tank’s base using a soft-bristled brush or a water sprayer.
  • Pour away the dirty, soapy water and fill the reservoir with two inches of fresh, clean water. Then, shake the tank gently to clear out any residue. Finally, rinse out the inner part of the tank using fresh water.
  • Let the tank air dry. Avoid using a cloth to dry it as it can leave behind lint that could block the exit.
  • Reinsert the filter inside the water tank, fill it with freshwater, and replace it inside the brewer. Ensure it’s firmly attached.
  • Power up the brewer and attempt three hot water-only brews. If successful, you’ve fixed the ‘prime’ error.

Clean the base port

Cleaning the base port can also fix the ‘prime’ error message. First, remove the tank and check out the bottom of the brewer to where the tank attaches to. You should be able to see the base port, which is a small hole surrounded by a silicone ring. 

Clean this section using a wet cloth and then run a water-only cycle. If hot water comes from the spout, you’ve successfully primed your Keurig coffee maker.

Clean the filter screen and the water tank port

To clear a mineral clog around the filter screen and water tank port, follow the steps below:

  • After removing the filter holder from the tank, place the tank under the faucet and aim the jet of water straight at the mesh screen where the filter holder attaches to
  • Fill ⅓ of the reservoir with water and put it on the cover lid. Then, shake it aggressively for 5 seconds before emptying it
  • Next, turn over the tank and, this time, let the water stream from the faucet run through the nozzle port from the external side. As this goes on, wipe off any clogs from the port using your finger
  • Empty the tank and replace the filter and holder. Reinsert the tank and try to run a hot water-only cycle. If it brews, you’ve successfully primed your Keurig machine

Unclog the needles

Sometimes, coffee grounds get stuck and dry up around the needles, thus obstructing the flow of water inside your Keurig coffee maker. This often occurs when you let the coffee pods stay in the capsule holder too long after use. Clogged needles can cause your Keurig brewer to display a ‘prime’ error message. 

If your Keurig machine is a 2.0 model, you can clean and unclog the needles using the cleaning tool that comes with the machine. Otherwise, use a straightened paper clip to unblock the needles by following the steps below:

  • Straighten one end of the paper clip and power the Keurig brewer.
  • Remove the water tank as well as the capsule holder.
  • After separating the holder from the housing, you should be able to see the exit needle. Use the straightened end of the paper clip to unclog this needle and rinse the pod holder.
  • Finally, open the handle to access the top entrance and exit needles and clean them with the paper clip.


I. Cleaning and maintenance

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