Valley home with basement fireplace

I bought a circa 1962 split-level home in August 2005. The fireplace is in the basement and the chimney is on an outside wall. The home sits in a valley, so we have a difficult time with the fireplace. The fireplace does not have a tradtional damper, but a damper cap at the top of the chimney. I have that closed unless I am burning a fire.
A. Fireplace doesnt draw well. Because of that, it takes a long time to heat the chimney and once it is heated, everything is fine. B. When fireplace is not in use, the residual smokey odor is very obvious. It is May and we still have the smell from the fireplace.
I have a few ideas that will allow me to have wood heat while not causing a big problem. Can you guys take a look and give me your thoughts?
1. Chimney cap that has a fan on it. I have seen this mentioned on a HGTV program. It appears to be designed for homes like mine. Though the idea makes sense, I can see the lifespan being short because of the electric motor and the heat exposure. It happens to be unattractive as well. But, if it works, it may be worth it. Does anyone have any thoughts on these?
2. Wood Stove insert that seals. My hunch is that the sealed doors will keep the smokey smell contained in the stove and chimney. Because of the improved efficiency, I would use less wood as well.
3. A metal (iron) pipe that would run inside the masonry chimney. I would see this as a way to have a hot chimney as well as making it more efficient. My father suggested that the pipe extend a few feet above the chimney. Would this work in solving our problem?
Any thoughts would be appreciated.
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There are many advantages of a wood stove over a fireplace, but odor is still a nuisance.
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I am wondering if the fire doesn't draw well because of a lack of make-up air. Are there windows that you could crack open a little to get air in?
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. . .

That was what I was going to say... Find some way to let extra air into the room with the fireplace, and see if that makes it more able to start a draft. If you find that that works, pipe outside air directly to the fireplace.
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The smokey smell is probubly the easiest to fix. A chimney balloon would help with the smokey smell and it would be cheaper than new glass doors. You can buy them at <url>www.chimneyballoon.us </url>. This would keep the aroma from wafting down the chimney.
I have seen the chimney fans work quite well, but they are not an inexpensive option. But then again an insert will be even more. The advantage to an insert is it will help you heat. the disadvantage to a fan is it will help you loose heat by sucking more air and it is one more electronic device to keep maintained.
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I was given a balloon chimney to try out. I highly reccommend it. It will be an inexpensive solution to your problem. AtlantaTom wrote:

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thank you. that would be great if i could solve the problem without spending the 1300 bucks for the chimney fan.
dayagent wrote:

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