Keurig Says Prime? 5 Causes and Easy Fixes

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When you’re rushing out the door and in desperate need of your morning caffeine fix, the last thing you need is an error message on your coffee maker. You bought your Keurig for its convenience, and now when you need it most, instead of making coffee, your Keurig says prime? Unacceptable!

Don’t worry; I’ll quickly walk you through what that Keurig prime message means and how to prime a Keurig coffee maker.

Why does my Keurig say prime?

The prime message indicates one of three typical machine problems – a misaligned water reservoir, dirty water, a clogged filter screen, or debris in the K-cup puncture needle.

The good news is that the Prime error message typically just means you need to clean or descale your machine. Descaling removes calcium buildup and lime deposits from the machine. These build up over time because calcium, lime, and other minerals naturally occur in water.

Fix 1: Adjust your Keurig’s Water Reservoir

Sometimes, the problem is as simple as a misaligned water reservoir. If this fix works, your coffee maker will be working in under 2 minutes.

You do not need any special tools for this, only to clean the machine thoroughly and in the appropriate order. Grab your Keurig owner’s manual before beginning. Each Keurig model has slightly different instructions for how to remove the reservoir.

  1. Turn off your Keurig and disconnect the power cord from the wall.
  2. Take the water reservoir off your Keurig.
  3. Gently lift the reservoir up and down a few times to see if air bubbles come up from the intake. If they do, continue until the bubbles stop.
  4. Replace the water reservoir in the Keurig.

Try the machine again to see if the message has gone away. If not, we’ll move on to the slightly more involved (but still easy) fixes.

Fix 2: Clean the Water Reservoir

You need to descale any coffee machine at least every six months. Even if the first fix worked, you might want to take the time to descale now if you haven’t done it recently.

I’m going to show you instructions for a basic clean, but I suggest picking up some Keurig descaling solution and making this a full descaling run.

  1. Switch off the Keurig and unplug it from the electrical outlet.
  2. Remove the water reservoir.
  3. Drain the water reservoir.
  4. Using a damp cloth and mild dish soap, scrub the reservoir’s interior. Rinse the reservoir thoroughly with clean water.
  5. Reattach the reservoir to the machine. Listen for the clicks that tell you the reservoir slid into the appropriate slots.
  6. Fill the reservoir with clean water. Run the machine without a K-cup of any type in it. This process washes out any residual calcium in the machine and once the cycle finishes, the Prime message should go away.
  7. (Optional) Run the cleaning cycle again using the descaling solution. This solution eliminates hard water deposited and should be used at least every six months.
  8. Fill your reservoir completely and run the machine with plain water to fully rinse it.

Your Keurig prime message should have disappeared. Also, your first cup of coffee after this process will probably taste just as delicious as the first cup you ever made with your machine.

If your Keurig still says prime, we’ve got two more fixes to try.

Fix 3: Clean the Needle

The culprit could be the needle that punctures the paper cover of each K-cup you place in the coffee maker. This tiny needle resides inside the Keurig’s brew head, and you can typically only see one or two centimeters of it. If you can observe more than that, it has dislodged.

Put on gloves so you do not harm yourself. Gently push the needle back into place. If it does not move, move on to the next step. If it falls out in your hand, you discovered the problem. The needle must puncture the coffee cover for the Keurig to process the coffee.

A loose or dislocated needle cannot do its job. You’ll need to contact Keurig to have warranty repairs done.

If it slides back into place, continue to examine its functionality. Look for coffee buildup or debris on the needle. It should appear completely clean. If you see anything amiss, use a safety pin or paper clip to dislodge the debris. Use a clean washcloth to wipe clean the needle.

The prime message should disappear. If it doesn’t, you have one more thing to try.

Fix 4: Clean the Filter Screen

Next, it’s time to check for a dirty filter screen.

  1. Turn off your Keurig and unplug it again.
  2. Remove the water reservoir and drain it.
  3. Take a damp cloth and wipe off the base port where the reservoir usually sits.
  4. Remove the mesh filter screen from the reservoir using a Phillips screwdriver. If you don’t have one handy, you can try just swishing some warm water through the filter to declog it.
  5. Clean the mesh screen (assuming you removed it) with warm water and a brush.
  6. Rinse the screen thoroughly and let it air dry. If you use a towel, it may leave lint behind that will re-clog the screen.
  7. Re-install the screen and the reservoir.
  8. Fill your reservoir and run the machine through with just water to rinse it.

Did that work? If so, it’s time to celebrate with some coffee. If not, we’ve still got one more trick to try.

Fix 5: Restart Your Keurig

You’ve probably done this with your computer or your cell phone at some point. It works with Keurigs, too.

Turn your coffee maker off and unplug the machine. It needs to rest.

Let it sit unplugged for at least 15 minutes. You’re allowing the machine to completely reset itself by doing this.

Plug the machine back into the electrical outlet. Turn it on. Your prime error message should have disappeared by now.

It’s Time to Call Keurig

Hopefully, you registered your Keurig when you purchased it or received it as a gift because that makes warranty processing much simpler. You can handle all of the Keurig warranty requests online. Depending on your brewer model, Keurig provides a one- to three-year warranty. The manufacturer intends for its Keurigs to last for years.

1. Visit Keurig coffee maker support. Choose your Keurig from those named and pictured.

2. On the specific coffee maker support page, choose the link for “Brewer Warranty Information.” You may need to click the “View More” button a few times to get this link to show.

3. Read the warranty information to locate the “How do you obtain warranty service?” section. This provides the up-to-date phone number for Keurig Customer Service. In this example, the coffee maker chosen lists the Keurig toll-free phone number of 1.866.901.BREW (2739).

4. Call the Keurig Warranty Information Center at the Keurig Customer Service. You must obtain a Return Authorization Number (RAN) before you can mail the brewer to the manufacturer. Any brewer shipped to them without a Return Authorization number gets returned to the sender without servicing.

5. Ship your Keurig to the warranty address provided with the RAN on the outside of the packaging and the appropriate paperwork on the inside of the package.

What’s Next?

Hopefully, you’ve fixed your Keurig with these cleaning options. If not, turn to the Keurig warranty center for help. The prime message does not mean your machine broke. You do not need to buy a new one. It just needs cleaning and might need servicing.

Once your Keurig is back up and running, reward yourself with something from my list of the strongest Keurig pods or the best coffee k-cups.

And, if your machine truly has stopped working (and I hope it hasn’t), now’s a good time to think about an upgrade. I recently reviewed the K-Supreme Plus Smart, the latest in Keurig’s K-Supreme line and the most powerful Keurig to date. It makes the best Keurig coffee I’ve tried, and I think it can fill that pod-sized hole in your heart.

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