The warning has gone out from white goods manufacturer Indesit, which has just launched a major repair and upgrade programme.
The firm says that in some “rare” cases excess fluff can come into contact with the heating element and present a risk of fire.
It is not clear how many appliances have been affected but the company warns the numbers may be “significant”.
A spokesman for the firm said: “Indesit has recently identified a fault with two of its tumble dryer models – the large air vented dryer and the condensing dryer.
“They were sold under the brand names of Hotpoint, Indesit and Creda between April 2004 and October 2015.
“As a result, we are carrying out a repair program, in full accordance with Trading Standards and the relevant regulatory bodies.”
The spokesman added: “We estimate that a significant number of units will be affected, but at this stage, we cannot speculate regarding the specific figure.
“These products were marketed in the UK and a number of other countries over the past 11 years, so we would expect a fairly large number of them to be affected.
“As part of the repair program, we are contacting the owners of affected appliances to arrange a free of charge upgrade.”
The company says customers have been told not to leave their appliances unattended and to clean fluff from the filter after use.
The spokesman said: “Customers should continue to use their appliances, but until updated, we would advise them to follow the original instructions for using the appliance and not to leave the appliance unattended during operation.
“They should also check the lint filter after every cycle and ensure proper venting, as directed in the original operating manual.
He added: “As part of the repair program, we are contacting the owners of affected appliances to arrange a free of charge upgrade.
“If any of our customers have any concerns about their tumble dryer and have yet to hear from us, they should visit our online model checker at Hotpoint or Indesit and follow the steps set out to ensure that their appliance is not affected.”
The warning follows an investigation by Indesit’s new owners Whirlpool into dryers sold by Hotpoint and Indesit between April 2004 and September 2015.