Asbestos testing kits are available, but you also need to find a lab to analyse the tests for you. It is best to leave asbestos testing to the professionals, then you know for sure you’re getting reliable test results carried out by experts who know everything there is to know about asbestos.
It’s actually quite a challenge to identify asbestos. It can look at lot like blown-in cellulose, which is simply recycled paper used for insulation. A loose-fill insulation called vermiculite can also look a lot like asbestos but it’s harmless. Then there are innocent-looking exterior cement shingles, which look fine but might actually be made from asbestos-cement. You can’t tell by just looking.
Sadly there’s no ‘usually’. Asbestos turns up in the oddest places, including sheet vinyl flooring, floor tiles, ceiling cavities where it’s used for insulation. It appears in pipe cement and mastic, in the heating pipe insulation you wrap around pipes, in roof flashing and roof tiles. Because it wasn’t banned in the UK until 1999, it turns up more or less everywhere.