Re: Asbestos ceiling?
No, you cannot tell if there's asbestos present without having a sample tested. This is a very easy thing to do, you only need a sample the size of a quarter to send to the lab, and your local county extension office or building department can direct you to a free or low cost testing facility. You can collect a sample from any inconspicuous place to send in.
Contrary to my esteemed colleague dj1's reply, there is something you can do to protect your family if there is asbestos present. The easiest thing to do is encapsulate it by applying a good layer of paint over it. This will seal in anything until you can take the time to remove or remediate in another manner.
Having said that, asbestos is only a problem when it's disturbed or friable. Friable means that it's decaying and releasing its fibers into the air on it's own. Disturbing, well that's pretty self explanatory and includes anything that disturbs the texture, from a mild graze while moving furniture to full on removal of the texture.
The best and first place to start is to get it tested. From there you can determine what your best options are in the time frame allotted. I personally would hold off on removal for a few years and go for encapsulation, which btw, is a widely recognized means of dealing with both asbestos and lead.
Congratulations on the baby, best wishes to you, your wife, and your soon to be little one.
I suffer from CDO ... Its like OCD, but in alphabetical order, LIKE IT SHOULD BE!!!